First and foremost, kudos to the FRA Conference staff and the City of Daytona Beach for planning and hosting a wonderful 2017 FRA conference.  This was my first FRA conference and I was impressed with not only the caliber of the sessions and speakers, but also the commitment of the attendees to redeveloping their Florida communities. The number of redevelopment success stories, especially in formerly blighted areas, is inspiring and deserves the appropriate recognition.

For me, the highlight of the conference was a brief speech by Senator Jack Latvala, who represents Florida’s 16th District. In his remarks, the Senator made it clear that many legislators in Tallahassee have an “anti-local government bias.”  The presumption is that Tallahassee legislators “know better than the local elected officials.”  This belief manifests itself in legislation aimed at curtailing local self-rule, including last year’s legislation to “sun-set” Community Redevelopment Agencies.

Senator Latvala made it clear that all FRA attendees “should be scared” of the potential CRA regulations in the 2018 legislative session. Being scared, however, is not a strategy to combat the misinformation that often surrounds the CRA community. With that in mind, Senator Latvala recommended two specific actions:

  1. Educate your Local Community. Continue to inform local elected officials and the public on the accomplishments of your CRA.
  2. “Dot your I’s and Cross your T’s.” Every CRA needs to be more “transparent” and “accountable” in their local community.

At Neighborly Software, we are committed to helping Florida’s CRAs with both of those actions. If your CRA is still relying on paper applications, excel spreadsheets and manual processes to administer your incentive programs and development projects, you are potentially spending too little time on action one (educate your local community) and too much time on action two (program compliance/transparency). Our software is designed to not only engage all relevant stakeholders, including developers, contractors, businesses and CRA administrators, but also to enforce compliance controls from the initial project/incentive application all the way through the ribbon cutting ceremony and beyond.

While at the conference, I conducted a number of live demos with Florida CRA leaders, and the feedback was incredibly positive.  The most consistent response we received was “wow, i did not know a solution like this existed!”  Going forward, Neighborly Software will continue to strongly support CRAs and the incredible work that you do in your communities and we look forward to the 2018 FRA Conference.

Click here to schedule a virtual demo and learn how our software can help your CRA become more efficient, transparent and accountable.